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Thursday, Oct 06, 2022

As House stalemate continues, govt sits pretty: does not hurt us, affects Opposition image

Monsoon session headed for washout as both sides stick to their positions.

AAP MP Sanjay Singh with TMC MP Dola Sen and other MPs during their protest at Parliament House complex, during ongoing Monsoon Session, in New Delhi, July 27, 2022. (PTI)

With the government and the Opposition refusing to budge from their positions, the ongoing Monsoon session is headed for a washout without any major business being transacted. Yet, sources in the government have indicated that the current stalemate “does not hurt” the treasury benches much as they do not have any crucial Bills pending and the pandemonium could, in fact, end up further damaging the image of the Opposition.

Amid uproarious scenes, slogan-shouting, placard-waving and repeated adjournments, neither of the two Houses of Parliament has seen any serious debate or discussion since the Monsoon session began on July 18.

Though there are indications that there could be a discussion next week, following an informal meeting that Leader of the House in Rajya Sabha Piyush Goyal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi had with some of the Opposition leaders, the suspension of the MPs could be a sticking point.

While the Opposition has been disrupting the proceedings demanding a discussion on the newly introduced GST rates on pre-packaged food items, inflation and the government’s alleged use of central investigative agencies against its leaders, the ruling party, while maintaining that it is ready to discuss any issue, hasn’t spelled out a date for the debate. With 20 Opposition MPs being suspended for the week for disrupting the proceedings, protests in the Rajya Sabha have become shriller.

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BJP sources, however, said the treasury benches are not agitated about the ongoing stalemate. “There is no urgent legislation pending before Parliament. There are no crucial Bills listed either,” said a BJP leader. Asked if the government would reach out to the Opposition to break the stalemate, a top leader of the party said, “There is no need. Things are going in the right direction.”

Another senior leader said: “The ongoing stalemate is affecting the already dented image of the Opposition. The government has clarified that it would discuss any issue. It does not bother us much.”

The BJP leaders recalled that the previous Monsoon session too had seen a few Bills being passed in the din, without any discussion. “While in the Opposition, the BJP never showed placards to block the Chair. But this is a new trend this Opposition has started — they block the chair, the Prime Minister and every minister. We cannot allow this to continue,” said a senior party leader.

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In the Lok Sabha, Opposition leaders on Wednesday demanded that the four Congress MPs who were suspended for the entire Monsoon Session should be allowed to attend the House. Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi shot back, saying the Opposition should give an assurance that no MP would display placards in the well of the House. Though Trinamool Congress leader Sudhip Bandyopadhyay agreed, other Opposition leaders refused to give their word.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, MPs of the Congress, DMK, Left parties and the NCP disrupted Lok Sabha proceedings asking for the suspension of the four Congress MPs — Manickam Tagore, S Jothimani, Ramya Haridas and T N Prathapan – to be revoked.

Joshi on Wednesday reiterated that the government is ready to discuss the GST issue as Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman is back in Parliament after being away due to Covid.

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The division in the Opposition side was stark on Wednesday as they held a protest demonstration in front of the Gandhi statue on the premises of Parliament. While MPs of the Congress, DMK and TRS, among others, demonstrated right in front of the Gandhi statue, the TMC MPs held a separate one on a nearby lawn. Inside Lok Sabha. too, the TMC MPs initially did not join the Opposition MPs who were sloganeering in the well of the House. Later, women members of the Trinamool, along with senior leader Saugata Roy, joined the others in the well but shouted slogans separately for a while.

With both the Houses witnessing repeated adjournments on Wednesday too, the BJP stepped up its offensive.

Describing Congress protests as an “attempt to hide the truth”, BJP national president J P Nadda on Wednesday said “the party thinks that one family (the Gandhis) is above the law”. Underlining that the Supreme Court has upheld the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) and jurisdiction of the ED, Nadda told reporters outside Parliament that, “The law is taking its own course and we all must respect the law of the land.”

Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur said that while on the one hand the (Congress) allegedly indulged in corruption, on the other, it was creating ruckus in Parliament.

Inside Lok Sabha, Speaker Om Birla cautioned Opposition MPs that the “House is meant for discussion, not for sloganeering or displaying placards.”

The Monsoon session is scheduled to end on August 12.

First published on: 27-07-2022 at 07:56:20 pm
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